Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

As the weather turns chilly and Baby New Year has filled our heads with hopes of success and the promise of new beginnings, our thoughts turn to the warmer clime (hopefully) in Las Vegas and the promise of the National Association of Television Program Executives convention.
All those deals just waiting to be made, shows looking for new homes, ideas being pitched and high-profile stars bestowing a smile on prospective buyers. It’s a magical time … but only if you’re there and lucky enough to already have an in.
We saved up and borrowed enough money to make it to NATPE 2001, bringing with us an idea, talent, ability and moxie, but unfortunately it did not matter. We wandered the floor and the suites (at the Venetian), handing out cards and demos, trying to set up appointments and running into Kato Kaelin. Kato walked out with a deal for a show; we did not (and yes, Kato does have fantastic hair, but is that enough?).
My point is this: NATPE is like a great big frat party, the kind where all the frat brothers are really good-looking, really rich and really connected. The poor slob who shows up and tries to just blend in can’t. Isn’t the whole point of a convention like NATPE for the little guy to be able to run with the big boys? We did not find that at all. In fact the opposite was true.
Sure there is the “pitch me” competition-but it’s a mere nod in the direction of the masses who might actually have the next “Friends” or “Seinfeld.”
Make NATPE what it truly should be: an event where the magic could happen. Figure out a way for everyone to get a shot. Just say no to more of the same old s-t and give somebody with actual talent a shot. But in the meantime, if anyone out there in TV land is looking for an incredible show with entertaining host that will work cheap, call me.
Lisa Michie
Asheville, N.C.
Save the Photojournalists
As a former photojournalist and having been involved in the coverage of numerous grass fires, I applaud the message Chris White is advocating in his Guest Commentary (“Press Needs Training to Deal With Wildfires,” TelevisionWeek, Dec. 15, 2003).
There is one point that should be emphasized, something that tends to be overlooked by many in the broadcast news business: It is the photojournalist who is usually the first on the scene of a fire (or other breaking story).
If any person should receive safety training, it is the man or woman carrying 20-plus pounds of video and/or audio equipment.
People inside and outside of the broadcast news business tend to fawn over the needs, wants and desires of the reporter (or anchor). After all, they are the “stars” of the show.
However, in many television markets across America, it is the photojournalist who will shoot and often interview people, only to bring the tape back and have a reporter (or anchor) write and voice the piece without ever having been on location.
Mr. White was right on target for suggesting that the “ball is in the media’s court.”
Perhaps general managers and news directors will think twice about their choice between a flashy new news set or proper (read: life-saving) training for their employees.
Eric Scholl
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Tulsa, Okla.
No Channel One Link
I was pleased to see Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the cable industry’s nonprofit education foundation, included in your Kids & Teens Special Report (TelevisionWeek, Nov. 24, 2003). As you noted, CIC’s 40 network members have, since 1989, provided to schools commercial-free, educational, copyright-cleared programming that is delivered free to 80,000 schools via local cable companies.
However, I think your readers may get confused when they see CIC referenced and its executive director, Dr. Peggy O’Brien, pictured in the story “Channel One Outlasts Its Critics,” which was about the controversy surrounding Channel One’s commercially supported programming. CIC is not associated with Channel One in any way. CIC remains a nonprofit effort of the cable industry, committed to using cable technology and content to further teaching and learning.
Carol Vernon
Public affairs director
Cable in the Classroom